THE TIMES OF INDIA. 5 July 2002.

Fourteen dead after initiation rituals in S.Africa

AFP, FRIDAY, JULY 05, 2002

JOHANNESBURG: The death toll of initiates in South Africa following circumcisions and harsh rituals now stands at 14, police said on Thursday.

Police spokesman Nomdumiso Jafta said seven deaths had been reported across Eastern Cape province over the past few weeks from septicaemia, negligence and natural causes.

Another six boys have died at initiation schools or hospitals in Heidelberg, southeast of Johannesburg, over the past two weeks, and one died in northern Limpopo province.

More than 101 boys, many with septic wounds to their genitals, have been treated in hospitals for multiple injuries after being beaten and exposed naked in sub-freezing temperatures at the bush schools, often run by unqualified teachers.

Teenagers have been attending the schools since the beginning of June for initiation rituals, seen in many black cultures in South Africa as the rite of passage to manhood.

Traditional leaders have urged that a law on initiation schools be drafted urgently, following a proliferation of fly-by-night schools.

(File prepared 03 July 2002)